INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. 1. Sick pay. 2. Increase in pay rates. 3. Staffing levels.
2. The Company operates an integrated poultry processing and chill distribution business. it slaughters and processes chickens for the domestic and UK markets and employs approximately 300 people.
The Union has submitted a claim for an improvement in the sick pay scheme, an increase in pay rates for certain staff, and an increase in staffing levels.
The dispute in relation to the sick pay scheme concerns the manner of its operation by the Company. The Union objects to the way in which the Company interprets the "rolling-year" system in deciding entitlement to sick pay. The Company goes back a year each time a worker is absent through sickness. The Union claims that this is an incorrect interpretation and that the year should be calculated forward.
The Company claims that its sick pay scheme is in line with that obtaining in the industry generally. Partnership 2000 provides for Unions to make a claim where it can be shown that a sick pay scheme is substantially out of line with those operating in similar companies. This would not apply to this particular case, they claim.
STAFFING LEVELS IN THE CUT-UP AREA
The Union claims that the agreed staffing level in the Portioning Department is 32 but that staff in this area are constantly being moved to other areas. It claims that workers are being moved at the whim of different supervisors.
The Company states that there is no agreed staffing level in this Department but that there is an agreed minimum throughput of work. It claims that it must have flexibility to meet customer requirements.
INCREASE IN PAY RATES
The Union is seeking an increase of £50.00 per week for supervisors and £20.00 plus for Box Weigh operators. The Union claims that the role and responsibilities of the supervisors have expanded and are now more like those of front-line managers than foremen/supervisors.
The Company claims that there has not been any significant change in the role of supervisor apart from normal on-going development which applies in every job.
The Union is also seeking an increase in pay rates for Box Weigh operators. It claims that the operation has become more complex since the introduction of computerised equipment.
The Company rejected the claim and argued that if anything, the job had become simpler.
As no agreement was possible between the parties the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 11th of March, 1998 and on the 16th of February, 1999 but no agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 4th of June, 1999, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 30th of November, 1999.
3. 1. The Union is seeking benefits for its members under the sick pay scheme of 6 weeks' full pay and 6 weeks at half pay within a twelve month period from the date of the first illness.
2. The employee should revert back to his/her full sick pay entitlements after a period of twelve months has elapsed from the first illness.
4. 1. The sick pay scheme is in line with that currently available in similar industries.
2. The cost of the sick pay scheme for 1998 was £60,000 and for 1999 is estimated at £66,500.
3. The Company currently experiences an absenteeism level under the sick pay scheme of approximately 5% per annum.
STAFFING LEVELS IN CUT-UP AREA
5. 1. The staffing level in the Cut-Up area was agreed at 32 and this should be maintained by the Company.
2. Where casual vacancies arise in any area that these should be filled from within the temporary pool of employees and not from the Cut-Up area.
3. Staff in the Cut-Up area should be maintained there until such time as their own work is completed.
6. 1. There is no agreed level of staffing in the Cut-Up area. Management must have the flexibility to move people from one area to another.
2. It would not be practical or commercially viable to leave a fixed number of employees in a certain area where there was not sufficient work for them.
The Court considered carefully the written and oral submissions made by the parties and recommends as follows on each of the issues presented:-
A dispute has arisen in relation to the wording arising from a proposal produced by the Labour Relations Commission in September, 1996. The Court has recommended to the parties that the dispute be resolved by asking the Industrial Relations Officer involved to clarify his proposal. The parties have agreed to do this.
2.STAFFING LEVELS IN THE CUT-UP AREA
It is clear to the Court that management believe they have, as a result of the 1997 agreement, flexibility to move people from this area.
The Union on the other side believes that there is an agreement to a manning level of 32 employees and that this should be maintained until such time as the work in the area is completed.
The Court accepts the management's argument that it would be uncommercial and uncompetitive to leave a fixed establishment in an area where there was not sufficient work. However, the Court also notes the Union's willingness to accept the need to be flexible and to move when this is the only option.
The Court recommends that the parties meet to discuss the Company's requirements and the Union's safeguards in an effort to reach an agreement that will address the business requirements and the concerns of the employees.
3.SUPERVISORS RATE OF PAY
The Union argues strongly that the supervisors have taken on significant extra responsibilities and have received no reward for it.
The management on the other side argue that the duties taken on have not been significant and those that have been undertaken must be viewed in a context of flexibility agreements in the pay deals.
The Court is not in a position to assess the significance of the changes, but would recommend that an independent third party be asked to compare the job prior and post the Union claim, to identify the changes that have been made, and to make recommendations as to whether they are of a such significance as to warrant any change in pay rates.
As in the supervisors' case, the Court is not in a position to measure the significance of the changes in this particular job and makes the same recommendation of an independent third party to examine the extra duties and make a recommendation on the merits of the claim for an increase in pay.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
16th December, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.